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I'm Not a Baby!

I'm Not a Baby!

by Jill McElmurry

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“I’m not a baby!” Leo Leotardi insists, but his family just won’t listen. Leo doesn’t want lumpy oatmeal (“Poopie,” he says); he wants waffles and syrup, like everyone else. But what the family (including Leo’s older siblings) don’t seem to notice is that, while Leo may be the baby of the family, he isn’t


“I’m not a baby!” Leo Leotardi insists, but his family just won’t listen. Leo doesn’t want lumpy oatmeal (“Poopie,” he says); he wants waffles and syrup, like everyone else. But what the family (including Leo’s older siblings) don’t seem to notice is that, while Leo may be the baby of the family, he isn’t actually a baby anymore. His bonnet is getting too tight, his clothes are bursting at the seams, and he doesn’t need to take naps! Will the poor boy have to go to college wearing booties?

Victorian-style illustrations and a hilarious tongue-in-cheek text are sure to captivate any kid who’s sick of being called the “baby.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With witty, Victorian illustrations and droll dialogue, McElmurry (Mad About Plaid) tells the fairy tale story of a boy whose family will simply not believe that he has grown up until he has an infant of his own. Initially, the repeated formula of Leo shouting "I'm not a baby!" seems funny, but as Leo grows up, the story's gradual resolution takes on an odd Love You Forever tone. Leo appears in a Shakespeare play sporting footies and holding a rattle, and the family dresses the mustached Leo in his baby bonnet for his first day at the office. The family often reacts to Leo's utterances with three lines of comical dialogue. When Leo gets lumpy oatmeal while the rest of the family eats luscious waffles, for instance, baby Leo says, "Poopie!" " `The baby said poopie,' said Lester. `The baby is persnickety,' said Papa. `Perhaps the baby needs a fresh diaper,' said Nanny Fanni." The illustrations exude eccentric charm. The nanny's red high-tops peek out from underneath her proper Victorian maid's uniform, and Leo's brother appears with a pet white mouse on his shoulder. Most children will initially relate to Leo's frustration at not being seen for who he is, and laugh at the incongruity of a grown man being taken for a baby. However, the holes in the fantasy logic (Leo is the only member of the family who is not allowed to grow up) may wear thin at subsequent readings. Ages 4-8. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Leslie Rounds
In this rather strange but funny picture book, Leo Leotardi, youngest of four alliteratively named siblings, is determined to grow up, although his family insists that he is just a baby. Their insistence is plausible at the beginning of the book when he is quite young but becomes bizarre by the time he has graduated from high school (bonnet in hand), married, and has a baby of his own. McElmurry's illustrations of a family in the early years of the twentieth century are interesting, and she incorporates words like persnickety, splendorous and impetuous into otherwise simple text of three to five lines per page. This book would be a great addition to a story time for kindergartners and first graders who will be old enough to understand the joke, but still young enough to enjoy the picture book experience.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Leo Leotardi has a problem, and it's plainly stated by the title and cover art. "I'm not a baby!" declaims the indignant child in a fussy Victorian pram, preposterously attired in rompers, a ruffle-edged baby bonnet, and booties. As he progresses through life-from tricycling off to school in his rompers, to his graduation speech in which he declares independence from booties and blankies, to his entry into the workforce (his nanny tying his bonnet under his manly chin), to his marriage and fatherhood-Leo's family continues to call him "the baby" against all his protestations (framed by speech balloons). It is when his own infant calls Leo "Dada" that his aging family awakens to reality. It is left to Leo's doting nanny to toss off the final absurdity, "Who ever said he was a baby?" The story has a child-appealing arc: the visual humor escalates as poor Leo looks more and more ludicrous in his baby clothes, and the predictable patterning of his repeated objections will invite ever-louder participation from listeners. The gouache illustrations on cream-colored paper present Leo's feckless family in a kind of Victorian tableau. The universality of Leo's lament and its wonderfully silly treatment will elicit giggles of recognition and, no doubt, requests for repeated readings.-Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Semantics. Leo Leotardi may be the youngest in his family, but he is aging right before our eyes. He's obviously outgrown his be-ribboned bassinet-he wants to eat waffles, wear big-boy pants and go to school. Nobody listens; everyone refers to him, affectionately, as "the baby." When Leo insists, repeatedly, that he is "NOT a baby," his father describes him as a "persnickety . . . splendorous . . . impetuous . . . weisenheimer [sic]." At school, Leo recites Shakespeare soliloquies, while dressed in his ridiculous blue romper, bonnet and booties; delivers the high-school graduation address; and goes off to find work, marriage and a baby of his own. Repeated readings reveal the point: There's a difference between being "THE baby" and being "A baby." Incongruous pairings in the comic gouache illustrations (a wood-fired stove, candlestick-style telephone and gas-lit chandelier cohabit with a laptop computer, electric light bulb and crimson high-top sneakers) remind us that this is nothing new. (Picture book. 4-7)
From the Publisher

School Library Journal starred review
Booklist starred review

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 10.38(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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